Cactus Dan tools...what now?


difficult thread to open I know but has anybody heard sth. regarding the CD tools future? It seems like they are gone, right?


As Cactus Dan has died, there will be no further updates
unless he willed it to some other developer.


I know that of course. That is why I am asking. Maybe someone is in contact with some relatives and knows if they plan to sell or release the code or if it it gone completely.


I would imagine it is gone for good mate.

You may wish to consider alternatives


I think I read somewhere that his sister was in charge of handling his estate. And she probably has no clue what any of his computer stuff is. Or any idea of whom to partner with even if she wanted to continue on with it.
She could give the hard drives to someone. Who then could post the C++ code for everyone to use. But well…money .:hmm:



Hi folks,

Dan’s tools have gone to a new home. I don’t know if you’ll see them again, that will be up to others. For now, time and opportunity perhaps, to explore and see what else is out there?



Dan’s passing was a big loss to the C4D community and to many of us personally, I still think about him regularly and miss his humor,
patience and insight. Cinema isn’t really Cinema anymore for me without his tools installed.

The ‘what else’ is Maya. I know that puts people’s back up just mentioning it but I believe it’s a realistic, sensible option. Dan was very open about the fact that many of his C4D tools, especially in the early days of development were a direct result of looking at the tools in Maya (and XSI and Max too) and trying to make his own versions for C4D. He was the first to bring a proper joint/skinning based rigging system to C4D, back when the best Maxon offered was the old Bones system. His CD Morph tools and CD Constraints were also directly influenced by the ‘Maya way’ of working, as were many of his helper commands like CD Parent and Unparent (P and shift-P hotkeys in Maya do exactly the same thing). He had the old Non Commercial version of Maya and was regularly checking out how rigs and tools worked in it.

In recent years I believe there was a perception in some C4D users that the native rigging tools had caught up with Dans’ and in some areas they had and have even surpassed them in some ways. But what the native tools lacked, and still lack really, was someone constantly using them for the purpose they were made for. So many of the C4D rigging tools look great on paper, but don’t work as well as they could when you actually try to use them in production. I did a little rigging job for an old C4D client a couple of weeks ago and kept having to remember things like ‘oh yeah there’s no rotation interpolation option on the constraints’ and ‘oh the weights don’t normalize when you smooth with the weights manager’. Those are bugs I guess you get used to when you use C4D all the time but it doesn’t mean they are not bugs… Certainly they are not as robust as the CA tools are in Maya. Dans’ tools were.

I used to rant on the beta that things didn’t work as they should and I used to get frustrated that Maxon always seemed to get 80% of the way there with an animation or rigging feature and would then call it done and move on to something else. But I eventually realized (hey I’m a slow learner sometimes) that they weren’t doing this deliberately - it was simply that the userbase is not, in general, using C4D for character work, so really why -should- Maxon keep working on the CA stuff until it’s as robust as something like Maya, they don’t have a userbase out there making CG movies with it. Sure there are shorts and commercials and even people like MdotStrange making feature length indie animation movies (guess what plugins he uses though…) but the vast majority of Cinema users don’t care about CA work. And that’s fine. Maxon -did- give us Alembic which has made it easy since R14 to do the character work elsewhere and then bring it back to Cinema for rendering, which I believe is the sensible approach. It’s what I’ve been doing for my clients now for several years, just did it last week in fact.

Cinema is a fantastic tool for many tasks, but for CA it’s always felt like eating soup with a fork, sure you -can- technically do it, but man it’s slow. Cactus Dan tried to give us a spoon but with his passing the work has stopped and for me it’s just best to move on. Even if someone was to compile his existing plugins for the current version of C4D we wouldn’t get the most important element - Dans endless inventiveness and willingness to push and improve the tools constantly. Character animation isn’t a static field any more than any other area of CG, the tools are constantly developing and improving. That’s what Dan gave C4D and sadly we can’t get his imagination or passion back.

Bit of a wandering post, I apologize, but seeing this topic touched a nerve,


This is Dan’s friend Herb in the Wild and Wooly West. Here’s an update:

Cactus Dan’s computers are on my table. At last everything has come together. I now have his password and once I can figure out that stupid hack-in-tosh OS I’ll be sending everything to Dan’s German friend “Slouchcorp” (Mr. Batchelor) who also makes popular C4D plugins such as XParticles. Finally Dan’s mom has gotten around to signing it all over so we’re almost there. There are 3 Apples and 1 PC to sort through. I need to make sure to find all the files, compiler directives, serial-number-generators and whatnot. I’m a 3d artist, not a coder, so this is pretty annoying honestly.


Thanks for the update - knowing that the destination of Dan’s tools is towards the Insydium team is such good news.


Wow. Mike Batchelor picking up Cactus Dan’s tools would indeed good news. Insydium have made nothing but stellar plugins for C4D so knowing that such a useful toolset from such a beloved developer is going to them is a relief.


Fantastic news. I know it’s hard work but I love seeing Dan’s work preserved and given to a developer that can do it justice.


Brian, that was a very touching post…


Originally Posted by brian horgan:“they don’t have a userbase out there making CG movies with it.”

I know this upsets hand keyframe purists but IMHO the reason
Feature length,C4D films are not being made with Multiple noncute/ noncartoony
Characters is C4D’s lack of a human IK rig that
easily retargets mocap Data from external sources.

I am 40 minutes in on a solo feature length ,marvel comics, based
personal “fan film” using Iclone for motion creation editing
and one click retargeting motion to Daz genesis rigs with Iclone 3D exchange
and Export to C4D as animated MDD meshes for rendering.
I have an estimated 21 hour render going in C4D as I write this.
Indeed I create& edit alot of character motion in the Daz studio graph editor& Dopesheet
but when I need 12 characters milling about the corridors of a space station
I need the option to use mocap on demand at least for personal one man projects such as this.
I love mograph and love the hair system.
but for character motion& lipsynch I will always use external options


I’d say Cinema is an option for folks if they want it to be. Personally, although I had Dan’s tools, I never used them. They were not very C4D -esque. They are indeed more maya like which I didn’t care for, and don’t prefer to work in Maya when I do my own work(I work every day in Maya and prefer to leave it when I can control that). Cinema’s native tools are on par with Dans. Better in some areas(morphs and weighting) and not better in some areas(oh how I wish Cinema’s Spline IK could do -360 to 360 twist instead of -180 to 180). I’d encourage folks to try them out. If you’re familiar with Cinema, it will be easy to pick up. One of Cinema’s perks is it’s flexibility with it’s character tools.

Personally, if Mike is getting the code, then it’s probably going to Insydium which is cool. It means that possibly David will get a hold of it. David did Cinema’s character tools and is a wizard, so at the end of the day it will be good.

But Character work has long been done without Dan’s tools, and can continue to be done with or without whatever the future holds for them. It won’t hurt anyone to just learn Cinema’s tools, because they are pretty robust. Even lacking a couple of things that Dan’s has, it hasn’t stopped me from doing Freelance rigging for 5 or so years in C4D.

The reasons why people don’t do full feature movies in C4D is not as simple as X or Y. It’s mostly due to a variety of things. Namely having a pipeline and team of dedicated toolset to get the job done.

No one just makes a movie with vanilla maya. It’s got tons and tons of custom stuff. What Cinema lacks are dedicated teams of TD’s to develop custom toolsets for. It hasn’t been Cinema’s forte because it’s ease of use, speed, and stability make it easy for artists to just mock up stuff and try new things rather than need to code tons of custom things.

My 2 cents.


While I’m happy for the customers that the plugins have a new home. I was sort of hoping against hope that Dan’s code would eventually end up open source some day.
I mostly learn by looking at other people’s code. And there’s a few things in there that I’m sure I could use in my own code projects.

For example:
I wrote my own FBX exporter for C4D. And there’s literally NOTHING about how to do that anywhere. And MAXON support is utterly useless for things like this. They are not allowed to post their code. Or even small parts of it. So I had to learn a lot of things the hard way. By trial and error, and stumbling around in the dark.
Although I was eventually successful in making my plugin work. I still have some unanswered questions about how to handle the joint matrices and default pose when the character is not at world center(0,0,0) and is rotated at frame zero. Looking at Dan’s FBX source code might help me solve this.
Things like this are often solved by the user base collaborating. And when plugins go paid only, everything the person/s learned is locked away with it and hidden from everyone else. :sad:

I also agree with Bret that the C4D CA tools are mostly fine. And if something I want doesn’t exist. The API is deep enough that I can write it myself.
Even if C4D had the best mocap tools around. I still doubt many people would use it. Because most C4D users are motion graphics artists. They’re scared of anything CA related.



That is sadly the general impression but in my opinion it is not true. At least here in Germany there are lots of people using it for chars in connection with Archviz, ProductViz, all kind of 3D Anim etc. But that is mostly Mocap related anim. That is not High End Char VFX stuff but it pays them and does the job. But they almost all use 3rd party rigs and do not build their own because of the mocap mapping. So a Mocap data projector onto the Char object rigs would be huge for many people I think.

Great to see there is more for the CD tools. Good to know.


I always forget about the Archviz crowd using animated characters. But if there really is a “lot” of these users. I don’t understand why nobody is doing anything about the mocap situation?
The C++ API let’s you build almost anything you want. And the Python API is catching up to it on every new release too.
We can also use outside things like Qt to make very GUI intensive plugins for C4D that the API is not good at.
If it really was something a lot of people would use. Then it’s strange that it’s being ignored by the plugin developers. They’re always looking to make money.
Perhaps it’s a matter of the workarounds being not bad enough to warrant the time addressing the problem? :shrug:



Well I beg to differ. It might actually be exactly the opposite. Motion graphics artists are used to edit clips on a timeline, and this is what mocap is all about : drag and drop motions to string and tweak them intelligently in a sequence. It’s film editing more than animation. This is a mindset they understand. Mocap is their gateway to animation.I know because that’s what I do.

Among other things, I do previz stuff with C4D, and only do character animation… through mocap. Because it’s much easier and faster (when having the right tools) than traditional keyframing. I use a combination of home-made motion capture (neuron mocap suit) + canned or procedural mocap (mixamo, iclone, etc…) for individual characters, and for crowd shots, I use An(i)ma. it works pretty well.

I would be completely unable to produce a minute of keyframe animation in a day or two, and yet that’s what I can do now.

C4D’s NLE is pretty good, but the BIGGEST letdown for mocap in C4D, is retargeting. It is totally useless as it is. So if your mocap isn’t matching perfectly to your rig (= very often), then you’re screwed.

Then comes the lack of FK/IK standard rig to adjust the mocap in IK once imported (you can do it with an FK layer, but it can be a bit tedious).

Ideally, we’d have something like Ikinema Action in C4D, which is like a more flexible (and non Autodesk) alternative to Motionbuilder and Maya’s HumanIK : retargeting, FK/IK blending and autocleaning all in one.

In the meantime I have to use an external cleaning solution and HumanIK in Iclone for most of the editing/tweaking/sequencing and only export the final result to C4D.

So honestly, given the big Motion Graphics community using C4D, Maxon should rather push Mocap tools first rather than traditional CA. It’s a much better fit for their userbase.


I did a quick search today on C4D & mocap. And I came across a plugin called “People In Motion”. This plugin seems to be the kind of thing people are asking for?
From a quick glance it seems to be a mocap re-targeting type plugin similar to Harvester. But with some extra blending options.
I didn’t see anything like an IK/FK rig in it though.

Is this plugin on everyone’s radar?
Is it on the right track? Or is it another near miss like the Harvester plugin is for many people?



Check here the author in this forum.

You can buy here:

[quote=]You have rigged characters and like to animate them? Look no further. With People in Motion R2.0 the animation of rigged characters couldn’t be easier.
If you are using Characters from DAZ 3D (Genesis 2 or Genesis 3, Victoria 6 or Michael 6), Renderpeople (rigged characters), AXYZ Design (rigged characters), Adobe Fuse/Mixamo or Autodesk Character Generator you can just Drag&Drop them to the Plug-in and can start to animate right away. Other human character rigs can be used by simply connecting the joints with the Plug-in. There is also a rig builder included to add a standard joint rig the a character model.

To design a walk animation, we have a Walk Designer build right into it. This includes other typical movements, such as walking up or down stairs or sitting down/standing up. Create your realistic, funny or stupid walk with just a few clicks and controls. Additional IK controls for the Head, Chest, Hips, Knees, Feet, Elbows and Hands can be set up automatically for individual animations. Overlay manual IK animations with generic walk or running animations with a push of a button.

It all doesn’t stop there as we also build in a simple Crowd control. Use Staircases, Elevators, Escalators, Seats, Curves or Wall objects to control the actions and waking paths of your characters. All this is directly build into Cinema 4D.[/quote]